...After the electoral upheaval of 1977, the right-wing governments built around 150 settlements, which were designed to make the occupation irreversible. Even after Likud withdrew from Sinai, the party was determined to prevent an additional evacuation. In an unprecedented display of arrogance, trepidation, and obliviousness to reality, Likudist Israel tried to consolidate its control over the territories, de facto. By employing anachronistic and illegitimate colonialist methods, the Israel of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon defied international law and the demographic realities on the ground to swallow large swaths of land it was incapable of digesting. Intoxicated by power and tinged by messianic fervor, it tried to stop Palestinian sovereignty at any price, but in so doing undermined Jewish sovereignty...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
We need cooperation among great powers and constructive contributions from all powers. We need alliances that work and partners that shoulder their share of the common burden. We need to work together to isolate spoilers. We need to join together to counter states that defy their international responsibilities even as we ensure that they have off-ramps should they choose a more responsible course. We need stronger mechanisms for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. And finally, we need more durable vehicles to promote economic development, democracy, and good governance. We need strong institutions, not strong men, to help lay a lasting foundation for global stability and sustainable growth.
To say the least, this is an ambitious agenda. But surely the State of Israel is one country that believes that human beings can and must do great things together—a country that has seen its extraordinary democratic institutions rise with miraculous speed—a country that knows that the trampled fields of war can shelter seeds of peace—a country that believes t in Herzl’s words, if you will it, it is no dream.
These responsibilities do not rest with leaders alone. Ordinary citizens must do their vital part—and heed the call to service and sacrifice. No climate pact will make the difference if consumers do not change the cars they drive or the way they insulate their homes. No peace will truly last if leaders are not held accountable for faithful implementation of their obligations and if citizens lose heart in the promise of a brighter future. Shared security rests on public resolve, common understanding, and united will.
Some will always scoff. Some will choose not to choose. Some will prefer drift to action. But history is made by those on the playing field, not those sitting in the cheap seats.
Decades from now, students sitting in classrooms from Jerusalem to Jakarta will learn about the life of Shimon Peres—and everyone will have forgotten those who grumble today from the sidelines or who are too caught up in short-term political interests to stand up for the interests of generations to come.
Decades from now, people in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel will still praise Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin, King Hussein, Yitzhak Rabin, and other Arab and Israeli leaders who knew that peace is always possible.
And decades from now, people will remember the leaders from this historic moment who took responsibility for our shared destiny and they will remember the citizens who refused to allow differences to define them.
We can be remembered as a generation that evaded the hard choices, that looked away, and that left its children less safe and less secure. Or we can come together to advance our interests, to stand up for our values, and to strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity.
The stakes are high. The choice is urgent. But America believes that, together, we can and we must rise to history’s call.
We won't be another Rhodesia
In a desk drawer of his room on the seventh floor of the Prime Minister's Office, Meridor keeps an old bundle of papers that are like his personal "Guide to the Perplexed." They are the records of the December 1977 Knesset session in which Prime Minister Menachem Begin first proposed an autonomy plan for the occupied territories in the framework of the peace agreement with Egypt. Begin also addressed the question of granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the territories. "We will not become another Rhodesia," he grandly declared, referring to the African state, today's Zimbabwe, that at the time was ruled by a white minority. "Whoever desires Israeli citizenship shall receive it."
What he really meant is that Israel would not become another South Africa, an apartheid state.
"Begin didn't want to say South Africa openly, in the Knesset, but in closed deliberations of the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs he said South Africa. In the Knesset he said Rhodesia, presumably because he didn't want to offend the South African regime. But what he clearly said was: This is not who we are. This is not the Likud. In the entire world there is no other country like this, where some of the territory belongs to it, and some is held, occupied, liberated, but not part of it."
Why do you hold onto those pages? Why do you find them so significant?
"We must disabuse ourselves of the illusion that the present situation between us and the Palestinians can be permanent, that it can continue into infinity. This is a grave mistake. We're essentially trying to normalize an anomaly. The proposals in Begin's autonomy plan of December 1977 were the first and most detailed Likud idea for a resolution of the conflict, which offered major concessions: We will not annex one millimeter, open sovereignty will prevail, security will remain in our hands and the independent administration will belong to the Palestinians. But Begin then asked a question: What about citizenship? And he answered: 'Every Arab who wishes to have Israeli citizenship shall receive it.' He said: 'We will not be Rhodesia.' This is a profound, moral matter. Not a technical matter.
"Likud is supposed to be a liberal national movement that is also concerned with equality among individuals, with human rights. I'll tell you something: In late 2002, then prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed me to prepare a peace plan along with senior aides Dov Weissglas, Amos Gilad and Ephraim Halevy. I sat down with him to understand what he had in mind, and we came to the issue of the Arabs voting. And then he said: 'Maybe they'll vote in Amman?' And I told him: 'Sure, and you'll vote in Jamaica.' He asked: 'Why Jamaica?' And I said: 'Why Amman? They live here. Voting is not a ceremonial thing. A person is entitled to shape the laws that govern his life in the place where he lives.'
"Begin understood this and said so, and moreover, he stated: Every Israeli can live in Judea and Samaria and every Arab is entitled to live anywhere in the Land of Israel. For many years, I could live with this. I didn't see a conflict between Greater Israel and liberal values, until it became apparent that the numbers just didn't work."
Are we on the fast track to a binational state?
"I don't want to reach the day when the two-state paradigm is replaced by a one-state paradigm. When the Arab demand is not for two states, but when someone comes and says: Does it make sense that for 40 years [West Bank settler leaders] Moshe Levinger and Elyakim Haetzni should vote on the question of what army should be here, who should have freedom of movement, who can judge, etc., and all the questions that a person votes upon, all the laws that apply there, and all the Arabs around don't vote?"
So what do you propose should be done now?
"I've come to a very painful conclusion, that a decision must be made. If we hold onto the entire land, we will not be able to remain a democracy, we will not be able to preserve human rights, equality, because the result will be a binational state. Even if we're not a minority, even if we comprise up 55 percent. That's no longer a Jewish state with an Arab minority, that's a state of two peoples who share the government. If we then want to maintain a situation in which only we have rights and they don't, that's what Begin meant by 'Rhodesia.'
Saturday, October 24, 2009
As tens of thousands of mourners thronged the Mount of Olives cemetery to approach the shrouded corpse of Menachem Begin, Esteban Alterman stopped clicking his camera's shutter and took a step back.
From the other side of the sandstone wall enclosing Begin's grave, Alterman had found his shot: 21 men of all different walks of life rushing the stone embankment up to the wall and hurling themselves over to press themselves into the already congested crowd.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Binyamin Netanyahu speaks about “economic peace” as a substitute for
political peace. Economic benefits instead of national independence. This, by
the way, shows how far removed he is from the teachings of his idol, Ze’ev
(Vladimir) Jabotinsky, who 85 years ago made fun of the Zionist leaders for
entertaining the illusion that the Palestinian people could be bought off. No
people, he said, sells itself for economic advantages....
...Abbas is supposed to confront Hamas in free elections – and this, too,
is hard to imagine. It is even harder to believe that the Americans would risk
allowing such elections. They have already announced that they are doing their
best to prevent the reconciliation. The Israeli media gleefully report that the
hatred between Fatah and Hamas is stronger than their hatred towards the
Israelis. That is not a unique phenomenon. When we were fighting against the
British regime in Palestine, David Ben-Gurion gave orders for Irgun fighters to
be turned over to the British police, and only the almost inhuman restraint of
Menachem Begin prevented a fratricidal war.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman referred to the possible deportation of foreign workers' children within three weeks on Sunday during a swearing in ceremony of Islamic judges held at the President's Residence.
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must do as Menachem Begin did. I can't envisage the children being deported," Braverman said.
His reference to Begin relates to a situation in 1977 in which late Prime Minister Menachem Begin granted Israeli citizenship to 179 Vietnamese refugees who escaped their homeland on boats after a regime change occurred in Vietnam. No country agreed to take the refugees in after being pulled out of the sea by an Israeli cargo ship...
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Revealed: MI5's Jewish terrorism fear
MI5 for many years avoided recruiting Jews as spies out of concern about their potential loyalty to Israel, according to a new book published this week.
Its policy stemmed from the years of Israel’s struggle for independence when the security services feared terrorist attacks on Britain by militant Zionist groups.
The revelation comes in The Defence of the Realm, an authorised history of M15 based on its archives, by Chistopher Andrew.
...“As late as 1974,” Prof Andrew writes, “when it was agreed that there was ‘no general bar on the recruitment of Jews of British nationality’, there was still prejudice against particularly observant Jews and those of distinctively Jewish ‘physical appearance and demeanour’.”
His book devotes one chapter to the threat of Zionism extremism as the militant Irgun and Stern Gang launched attacks on British troops in Palestine. Reports circulated in autumn 1946 that the wanted Irgun leader Menachem Begin was intending to travel to the UK.
In 1947 the Colonial Office in Whitehall survived a Stern Gang bomb — only because the timer failed — and the same group sent letter bombs to British politicians that year.
Although most British Jewish organisations were opposed to terrorism, a few Jews were suspected of planning terrorist attacks here. In one case, in July 1947, grenades and detonators were discovered, by his chauffeur, in the boot of the car of Harry Isaac Presman of north London, but he pleaded ignorance and the police did not charge him.
The authorities were concerned about arms purchases for the Zionist underground and illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine to beat the tight British quota.
Prof Andrew writes: “The Security Service believed that, as a result of its
penetration of the Jewish organisations in London and other intelligence sources, ‘only one out of 30 ships carrying illegal immigrants reached their
Elsewhere in the book Prof Andrew records how the notorious double-agent Kim Philby, the first of the Cambridge Five, was recruited for the KGB by Arnold Deutsch, a Jewish Communist from central Europe who was studying in London and who was a cousin of Odeon cinema founder, Oscar Deutsch.
Many years later, Philby’s treachery was exposed after Flora Solomon, a Wizo activist, told Victor Rothschild, in a conversation at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, that Philby had tried to recruit her for the KGB.
Complaints to The Guardian newspaper over an incomplete list of Nobel peace prize winners have led to a hasty amendment on the paper's website.
The incomplete list was up for four hours, despite comments below the list which pointed out the omissions of Yitzak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres.
Immediately following the announcement of President Barack Obama's win of the 2009 Nobel peace prize, Guardian news editor Simon Rogers posted what he claimed was "every peace prize winner ever", stating that the information came from the website Nobelprize.org
But the Guardian list omitted Israeli winners Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin.
Menachem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of Israel, jointly won the Nobel peace prize in 1978 for signing a peace treaty with Egypt with President of Egypt Anwar Sadat. Only Sadat was listed by the Guardian...
Stephen Pollard writes there at the JC:
The Guardian's ommission of the Israelis gets more bizarre.
They have told us that it was down to:
technical issue during the data transfer from the
site, which meant that many of the names of the joint winners of the Nobel Peace
Prize were accidentally omitted, although the country of origin of the winners
Eh? There are many, many other joint winners listed on the original, and they all transferred over to the Guardian's site. Somehow this technical issue only affected the three Israeli names.
I do not believe the Guardian's explanation.
Melanie Phillips writes:
Here is a little quiz. The Guardian has posted up a list here of everyone who has won the Nobel Peace Prize since its inception.
Q: Which three names are omitted from the Guardian list ( even though they do appear on the Nobelprize.org list which the Guardian has purportedly reproduced)?***
A: Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.
And what is the common link between these three names? Precisely.
It appears someone at the Guardian actually went to the effort of removing the names of the three Israeli statesmen who won the prize. Facts are sacred?
Here’s a further curiosity. If you look at the years 1978 and 1994, although the Guardian has air-brushed out the names of Begin, Peres and Rabin it has apparently added in the name of their country, Israel, which is given in a neighbouring column – thus managing to suggest that Sadat and Arafat represented Israel along with Egypt and ‘Palestine’ in winning the prize in those years. So what happend? Did the hand typing in the name of the country accidentally hit the keys three times so that the names that went with it were coincidentally all deleted?
Tsk – standards of censorship on Planet Bigotry are clearly slipping.
***Update, 1650: Lo and behold, the three Israeli names have now been added to the Guardian list.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Goldstone: ‘If This Was a Court Of Law, There Would Have Been Nothing Proven.’
...Tellingly, in an interview with the Forward on October 2, Goldstone himself acknowledged the tentative nature of his findings.
“Ours wasn’t an investigation, it was a fact-finding mission,” he said, sitting in his Midtown Manhattan office at Fordham University Law School, where he is currently visiting faculty. “We made that clear.”
Goldstone defended the report’s reliance on eyewitness accounts, noting his mission had cross-checked those accounts against each other and sought corroboration from photos, satellite photos, contemporaneous reports, forensic evidence and the mission’s own inspections of the sites in question.
For all that gathered information, though, he said, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”
Goldstone emphasized that his conclusion that war crimes had been committed was always intended as conditional...
...Goldstone maintains that the burden is now on Israel to counter these findings through its own probe.
“If I was advising Israel, I would say have open investigations,” he told the Forward. “In that way, you can put an end to this. It’s in the interest of all the people of Israel that if any of our allegations are established and if they’re criminal, there should be prosecutions. And if they’re false, that should be established. And I wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”
Goldstone rejected the credibility of the army’s secret investigation of itself. He noted that none of the Palestinian witnesses he had met reported having been contacted by the army to hear their account. Instead, he offered the example of the Israeli investigation into the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, commissioned by Menachem Begin, as a model to emulate.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
TOTAL NUMBER OF VISITORS SINCE OCTOBER 2004: 524,989
Table of Contents:
English website is live
Ad campaign for Sukkot
WE WISH ALL OUR READERS
A HAPPY SUKKOT!
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Hoshana Raba Evening of Learning. To open the new year of the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is sponsoring an evening of learning on October 8, 2009, for Hoshana Raba. The three main lecturers for the year will each present lectures that evening, including Dr. Shelly Goldberg, Mr. Baruch Barzel and Dr. Ido Hevroni. The evening will conclude with Yonatan Razel who will sing religious songs in the spirit of Hoshana Raba. This event is free and is in Hebrew.
October 15 at 7:00pm
First Parashat Hashavua with Dr. Ido Hevroni.
ENGLISH WEBSITE IS LIVE!
The English version of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is live.
The site is still under construction, but we invite you to visit the site HERE and see what's new and what's happening.
AD CAMPAIGN FOR SUKKOT
As part of our advertisement campaign to increase attendance at the museum during Sukkot, we have a full billboard size poster near the Begin Center informing everyone of our extended hours. Additional advertisements are also posted several other busy intersections around Jerusalem.
The sign announces "An exciting trip through the life of a leader!" and that we have extended our hours until 7:00pm each evening of Chol HaMoed Sukkot.
We hope to see another week of stellar museum attendance numbers.
FIRST TIME AT HAKHEL FESTIVAL
The Hakhel Festival has been in existence for the past thirteen years and for the first time, the Begin Center has been approached to participate. The Hakhel Fesitval is an event focusing on Jewish identity and Israeli culture. This year the Festival will be at Sapir College in Sderot on 4 October. The Education Department of the Begin Center will facilitate a workshop for participants titled "Between Judaism and Democracy". The Begin Center will also be represented with its own information booth at the Festival. Their English language website is HERE.
NEW ART EXHIBITION IN THE FOYER
A sculptress, Bella Strifler, and a painter, Leora Benkel, have launched an art exhibition at the Begin Center. The theme is "Fluctuations" and the works explore the dialogue between open space and matter using wheel elements and utilizing the symbol of a clock as part of our lives.
The exhibit will be on view until October 19.
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Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
c/o Mr. Eric Graus
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Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
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What Would Begin Do?
Seeing the Iranian nuclear threat through the lens of Osirak
By Seth Lipsky
The latest disclosures in respect of Iran’s work on an atomic bomb—the International Atomic Energy Agency says the mullahs have the technical data needed to make a weapon—has me thinking about what happened in 1981, when Israel sent a flight of American-built warplanes to destroy a reactor that Iraq was building as part of a suspected program to manufacture a weapon. The thing that stands out from that episode is that it came out of the blue, not just literally but also politically.
Certainly there was plenty of concern about what Iraq was up to, but the long public debate, the hand-wringing, the threats, the counter-threats, the journalistic chorus about what a terrible thing a pre-emptive attack would be, how dangerous, none of this happened. One day Iraq had a nuclear reactor. The next day it didn’t. The attack was met with the usual outrage, but then a funny thing happened, and the tide began to turn in Israel’s favor, in part because Menachem Begin had no apologies.
...The [Wall Street] Journal recognized that Israel “was not acting out of some abstract concern with nonproliferation.” It presumed that Israel was “pursuing its own interest” and conceded the timing of the raid was “no doubt” in Begin’s “political interest in the impending elections.”
...Today, everyone is more tense...Surely Iran is a more difficult military mission than Iraq was, though our weapons systems are also more advanced. But surely Iran is further along the road to a bomb-making capacity than Iraq was. Menachem Begin refrained from debating any of this in public before he made his attack, and then one day there was no reactor in Iraq—a fact that eventually came to be viewed with a great deal of relief by the rest of the world.
Monday, October 5, 2009
After each performance, she would return home to her Orthodox family in
Netanya. She is the eldest of seven siblings, the daughter of Lola, a housewife,
and Shalom, a diamond industry worker, who had a great influence on her. Her
father, a member of the Labor movement, also admired right-wing leader Menachem Begin. Alongside the sacred texts in his home were also volumes by Zionist thinkers Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Berl Katznelson, from two ends of the political spectrum.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Leaving Israel With No Choice?
By Michael Gerson
Friday, October 2, 2009
On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off for the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, after the pilots were emotionally briefed that "the alternative is our destruction." In fact, Prime Minister Menachem Begin had no idea whether the raid would stop the Iraqi nuclear program or merely slow it. But slowing it was reason enough.
Since the George W. Bush administration, the American military has estimated that an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay the development of its program. "The reality is," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently, "there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so."
But for several months, high-ranking Israeli officials have been telling American visitors that buying time may be worth it. The Osirak raid, after all, turned out to be an unexpectedly decisive blow. And who knows what political changes might take place in Iran during a few years of nuclear breathing space? Not many Israelis would need to be convinced by this argument -- a recommendation would go from the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to the security cabinet and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Perhaps a dozen people could shake the world.
Clues to Israeli desperation are now so obvious that many have missed them. Netanyahu's recent speech at the United Nations was generally reported as part of a rhetorical tit for tat with Israel's bombastic enemies. But perhaps Netanyahu's impassioned warning against the world's first Holocaust-denying nuclear state should be taken at face value. Former U.S. undersecretary of defense Dov S. Zakheim thinks Netanyahu might have been "setting the stage to say to the world after a strike, 'I told you so.' "
An Israeli strike on Iran is an outcome that no American administration would desire. Though an attack might be privately cheered by some Arab rulers, the public consequences would be broad and unpredictable. If Israeli planes were to fly over Iraq, the reaction against America in that country could get ugly. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would probably be forced to step away from talks with Israel. Iran could escalate the crisis, with missile launches against Israel and attacks from terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah. In a global anti-Israel backlash, it is possible that the diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran would be eased instead of increased, making the reconstitution of its nuclear program more likely.
On Iran, the Obama administration, while differing in some diplomatic methods, has adopted the same basic approach as the Bush administration -- offering Tehran a reasonable way out of confrontation, building support among allies for crippling economic sanctions when the Iranians refuse, somehow persuading Russia and China to play along, and preserving a military option as the last of the last resorts. Many question the administration's skill and will, but there are few alternatives to the general strategy. A virtual blockade of the Iranian economy -- aggressively cutting off shipping, banking and refined petroleum -- would not be a half-measure. It would be an act close to war.
But one large threat to this strategy comes from the Obama administration itself, which may be unintentionally encouraging an Israeli military strike on Iran. Obama has injected considerable suspicion into the American-Israeli relationship, picking public fights on issues such as settlements and adopting a tone of neutrality in other controversies. If Israel thinks America is an increasingly unreliable partner, Israel will be more likely to depend on itself alone -- and let the bombers fly. "When someone is trigger-happy," says Zakheim, "the last thing you want to do is make them paranoid."
In the end, it is American leaders who can talk Israeli leaders off the ledge of military confrontation. This is possible only if Israelis trust American goodwill, competence and strength of purpose. The immediate precedent does not encourage confidence. Israelis look at the North Korean crisis and see an example of meticulous, multilateral cooperation resulting in spectacular counterproliferation failure. Why, they wonder, is Iran going to be different? Weak American credibility on North Korea has strengthened the argument for direct Israeli action against Iran.
Here is a paradox for President Obama to ponder while traversing the Iranian minefield: If the Israelis were confident that America would act decisively against the Iranian nuclear threat in the greatest extremity, they would be far less likely to act themselves. Lacking that confidence, they may conclude, once again, that delaying the threat is good enough.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Sir, - In an op-ed discussing the Transfer Agreement of 1933 with Nazi Germany ("When Zionists made a deal with the Nazis," September 24), Edwin Black asserts that Haim Arlosoroff was "assassinated... presumably by Revisionist Zionists of the Ze'ev Jabotinsky camp." He further claims that "the Revisionist Zionists... violently opposed the deal."
"Presumably"? The Bechor Commission that reinvestigated the matter in 1985 found no new evidence and insisted that the accused assassins, Avraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt, were not guilty. If the author possesses other evidence, he should submit it or publish it.
Moreover, the use of "violently opposed" is quite improper. There were no violent deeds, but rather strident and robust headlines in the newspapers.